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Mazda Mazda2

Overall verdict

The Top Gear car review:Mazda Mazda2



What is it like on the road?

Let’s deal with the elephant in the room. Or rather, the asthmatic under the bonnet. Yes, we’re reserving our right to be hypocrites here, but much as we love naturally aspirated engines for their responsiveness and smooth power delivery, there’s no getting away from the fact that a diet of turbocharged 1.0-litre superminis has rather spoiled us all in recent years. No, those turbo units are nowhere near as efficient as claimed, but they do offer a lot of on-demand torque, and driving the 2 serves to teach just how lazy that’s made us. Even the 89bhp version, complete with just 109lb ft of torque, takes a heck of a lot of coaxing along.

Course, you could just adapt your driving style, right? Well, up to a point. Yes, you can hang onto gears for longer, and extend the revs out, but even driven with that sort of just-passed-my-test-look-out-everyone mentality, the 2 is still A Slow Car. Only now, it’s also a thrashy car, and not a particularly frugal one. We’ve always applauded and lauded Mazda’s ‘rightsizing’ engine approach – that instead of rushing to fit turbocharged teeny engines to every car it makes, it instead carried on making comparatively large normally aspirated motors that suited the size of their models.

So, a 2.0-litre in the Mazda 3, when a Golf made so with a 1.0 or 1.5. And a 1.5-litre in the 2, when a Clio has a 0.9-litre engine. All very sensible, mature thinking. We just wish it could’ve wrung out a bit more torque here, so progress in the 2 didn’t feel so hard-fought. There used to be a 113bhp version of this engine, but it’s been killed off, and we miss it.

It’s double-jeopardy for the 2, because it’s one of the best handling cars of its size. It’s chuckable, forgiving, comfortable and agile. There’s ideally weighted steering, a slick gearchange, sensible pedal weighting and plenty of grip. It’s as good as you’d need a boggo supermini to be at going around corners, and quite a lot better besides.

Wind and tyre noise is more noticeable than in the very quietest superminis, like the Renault Clio and VW Polo. But the engine ought to drown that out…